How To Stop Recreating and Start Redefining

How To Stop Recreating and Start Redefining

“Groundhog Day.” You know what I’m talking about. It’s the movie where Bill Murray plays a reporter that goes to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to see if the town’s mascot and groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, is going to see his shadow on Groundhog Day. While everything seems normal at the beginning, the “fun” begins when Bill Murray gets caught in a cycle of living the exact same day over and over. No matter how much he recreates the elements of his day in attempts to break the cycle, he never really changes the outcome of the day. 

Sound familiar? For many of us, our leadership contexts are reflective of this same cycle. We feel like we’re trapped, knowing that we have to change something in order for our ministry to become healthy and progress, but we never really end up changing the outcome. This leads to our ministries becoming stale, boring, and irrelevant. Why is this? Why is it whenever we feel the Holy Spirit begin to move us to progress that it never seems to work out? We ask ourselves, “Did I miss God, or worse, does God even want to use me anymore?” Now before you type up that resignation and move to Seattle to become a barista, let’s pump the brakes a little and bring some clarity to this issue. When God starts to bring change to your heart He’s not asking you to recreate your ministry, He’s asking you to redefine it. Did you hear me? I said…

Don't recreate your ministry. Redefine your ministry.

For this to happen, there are three perspectives that I believe are absolutely vital as we lead our students, our leaders, and ourselves into a place where we see our ministries become healthy.

1. Recall the Truth
There have been more times than I can count where I have wanted to quit ministry because it was hard, even rationalizing that God was moving me on and that I wasn’t God’s man for my context anymore. Know that if you believe that, you believe a lie. One of the most self-sabotaging things we can do is believe the lie fed to us by the Enemy that we are washed up and irrelevant. When we believe this, we take on a spirit of fear and that spirit was never a part of God’s original design for our lives. It is here that we MUST refuse fear and doubt in favor of perfect love. Your calling is still sure, your gifts are empowered, and out of all the people God could have called to your context, He called you. Once you grasp this, then it will change your ministry into a movement infused with power and purpose.

2. Remember the Vision
When we come to an impasse in our ministries we often throw away the vision and start over. Whether our ministry stops growing, becomes mundane, or loses momentum, we automatically assume that the original vision isn’t relevant. But before we allow that kind of thinking to take root, let’s not forget that the vision came from God. It’s just as good today as it was the first day you received it. Throwing away the vision for your youth ministry in favor of something else is like throwing away the Ark of the Covenant in favor of the golden calf. Don’t let the Enemy rob you of the very thing that first ignited the fires of youth ministry in your heart. It doesn’t take you recreating the vision, just redefining how it works.

3. Redefine the Process
If you have the first two perspectives nailed down, this one will be easy. The most important thing in redefining the process is to ask yourself, “Does my ministry behave in a way that reflects the vision God gave me?” If it doesn’t, don’t change the vision, instead redefine the systems you have in place so that they reflect the vision. As a result, the correct behavior in your students will naturally follow suit. For example, if you struggle in creating a platform for getting your students to tithe, don’t toss out the vision and chalk it up to your students being apathetic about giving. Rather, redefine your approach to tithing by shifting the systems you have in place so that your students engage the way you want them to. The key is to never stop tweaking your systems until they create the behavior in your students that honors the vision.

Hear me when I say that you have come too far and have invested too much to throw in the towel at this stage. Your calling is still necessary and what God has given you is needed in your context. Never forget that you are God’s “Plan A” for the world He has placed you in, there is no “Plan B,” and he is absolutely cool with that. As you take those necessary steps in redefining your ministry and bringing health to it as a result, know that you do so with all of Heaven at your back and God’s purpose at your front and that you have it in you to bring health to the spiritual life of those around you.

To read more leadership and ministry insights from Terry Parkman, you can check out his personal blog here.

 

 

A Greater Way To Lead

A Greater Way To Lead

Back in 2014, we started our year just like this year with a church-wide Lifegroup series. That year, we were amazed to see God move in our church through a series called Greater. It was all about encountering, experiencing, and living in the GREATER presence of God.

The idea behind Greater sparked when Pastor Rob and Becca visited our youth students on Global Team Europe. During their visit, Pastor Rob walked through painfully cavernous cathedrals all across Europe, seemingly absent of God’s presence. He left that trip with a deep conviction—to challenge our church to never forsake the presence of God. He knew that as we pursue God in greater ways, God would do greater things in our lives, in our church, and in our world.

1 John 4:4 best summarizes the heartbeat behind Greater.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (NLT)

God’s Spirit is the X-factor for our lives. His Spirit is greater than anything we could ever come against, and His Spirit propels us to go further than we could ever could on our own.

Reflecting back on the Greater series makes me think:

How should living in the greater presence of God affect our leadership? 

Here are three ways we can lead in and through the greater presence of God.

1. Greater leadership is all about invitation.

Don’t forget—God is simply inviting us to be a part of what He is already doing in our church and our world. Greater leadership simply responds to God’s standing invitation to co-labor with Him, reconciling all things back to Himself as His willing and humble servants. Interestingly, just as greater leadership responds to invitation, it also extends invitation. We do this in two ways. First, we invite the Holy Spirit to be actively part of our leadership, and second, we actively invite others into the work God is doing through us.

2. Greater leadership is grounded in gratitude.

One of our primary responsibilities as leaders is to remember where God has taken us. This can be the secret sauce to ongoing leadership development because as we extend gratitude to God, we recognize the many ways our growth has been propelled by God’s provision, peace, and direction. This ongoing practice of gratitude can also maximize the potential of those under our leadership. In fact, as we appreciate, honor, and celebrate others, we motivate them to continue on in the work God has set before them, no matter the obstacle.

3. Greater leadership leaves room for the unexpected.

We all know planning is key for effective leadership, but we must also manage the tension of over-planning, which leaves little room for the unexpected. Often times, our leadership journeys won’t follow the paths we initially planned, and when we are mindful of the presence of God, we recognize that these detours are nothing to fret about because God is faithful to finish the work He has already started. As a result, greater leadership leans into the full, dynamic creativity of God, knowing that He writes the most thrilling and meaningful stories in our lives.

Greater leadership leans into the full, dynamic creativity of God, knowing that He writes the most thrilling and meaningful stories in our lives.

 

As you embark on the leadership journey of moving people from here to there, respond to the invitation of God to be with you along the way. As you do, practice ongoing gratefulness for the work of God in and through you, and your leadership will be taken to greater heights as you navigate the unexpected detours— and miracles— along the way. 

Your leadership will be unlike anything you have ever experienced before. 

It will be greater.

Avoiding Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is a real thing— it’s the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is one of the causes of irrational trade-offs. For instance, judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day. Decision fatigue may also lead to consumers making poor choices with their purchases. (I knew there was a scientific reason for my occasional poor consumer choices).

I truly love to plan, and am not a “quick on my feet decider.” I have found that implementing the following steps helps me to be more prepared for these unexpected decision making moments.  

Scripture memorization is the highest priority in preparing me for these unexpected times of decision points. 1 Peter 3:15 encourages us to, “set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.” Memorization of scripture’s key principles is important to godly decision making. Here are some of my favorites:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5).
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
"Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20).

The second priority in my attempt to prepare for the need to make a timely decision is to remember that it is okay to ask for time.  Don’t let yourself be pressured into a hasty decision, if it is at all possible.

Another way to prepare for “in the moment decision-making” is to pray for God to speak, regarding this choice to be made.  It takes some time to learn how to hear His voice and to have the sensitivity to listen to it even though He is speaking continually as we abide in Him.


@@I am a child of God— I make mistakes, but His grace is ready and available to all who call on His name.@@


Most important of all is to know this: I am a child of God— I make mistakes, but His grace is ready and available to all who call on His name.  He covers His children with love and protection.  When God is for us, there is no need to be paralyzed with fear.  We can go forth and be bold and courageous as we seek God in our decision making. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Creating A Meaningful Community Experience

Creating A Meaningful Community Experience

Lifegroups are a really special thing. When a community comes together, centered around growing to be more like Jesus, something powerful happens. Something miraculous can happen, when we study the Bible, when we pray with one another, when we have an honest conversation with one another. 

When we do these things, together, we grow. 

Anchor Down

Anchor Down

Transition is tough, and while it’s a given when it comes to leadership, it’s never easy when it comes around. In my life, my greatest transitions have happened as I’ve followed the call of God to serve at another church and as God called my wife and I to adopt. When these transitions happen everything changes. What’s key is understanding that with transition comes a lot of new: new balance, new contexts, and new paradigms.